There are so many streaming options available these days, and so many conflicting recommendations, that it’s hard to see through all the crap you could be watching. Each Friday, The Verge’s Cut the Crap column simplifies the choice by sorting through the overwhelming multitude of movies and TV shows on subscription services, and recommending a single perfect thing to watch this weekend.
What to watch
The DC’s Legends of Tomorrow episode “Here I Go Again.”
In the 11th episode of The CW series’ recently completed third season, the show’s time-traveling heroes get stuck in a time loop, reliving an hour of their lives which always ends with their ship exploding. Zari, the team’s newest member, is the only one who retains her memories. She spends her repeating hours trying to solve the mystery of what’s happening, all while getting to know more about her fellow Legends: Sara Lance (a.k.a “White Canary”), the no-nonsense leader; Ray Palmer (“The Atom”), a cheery, nerdy scientist; Mick Rory (“Heat Wave”), a not-so-reformed super-villain; Nate Heywood (“Steel”), a handsome, awestruck adventurer; and Amaya Jiwe (“Vixen”), an earnest champion of the needy.
Why watch now?
Because Avengers: Infinity War is going to completely take over movie screens and the cultural conversation this weekend. Viewers may come away from the film wanting an antidote for the film’s big shocks and heavy tone, or it may just make them hungry for a whole lot more superhero. Either way, Legends of Tomorrow has them covered, with a distinctly different kind of super-team saga.
The Marvel Cinematic Universe’s creative collective has planned their series remarkably well, building to this weekend’s big release, when a dozen or so of Marvel Comics’ most popular characters can share the big screen for one epic battle. But on a smaller scale, producer Greg Berlanti and Warner Bros. Television have done something pretty impressive too, using their shows Arrow and The Flash to populate a whole universe with some of DC Comics’ strangest and coolest superheroes and villains.
Legends of Tomorrow has given a few of those characters a place to congregate for their own adventures. The show’s first season suffered from an overly heavy plot and too much bickering among its band of also-ran heroes, on a mission to correct chronological anomalies. Season two added new characters and embraced the inherent goofiness of time-travel stories, resulting in something much more entertaining. Season three amplified the craziness, through episodes like “Guest Starring John Noble,” in which some of the Legends try to prevent a psychic gorilla from killing a college-aged Barack Obama, while others travel back in time to the set of The Lord of the Rings to enlist Australian character actor John Noble (who played Denethor) in a complicated ruse.
Legends’ “anything goes” quality is evident in the opening minutes of “Here I Go Again,” where the team returns from an off-screen mission sporting white disco suits, apparently having just prevented a time-lost ABBA 8-track from persuading Napoleon not to fight the Battle of Waterloo. That’s not exactly on the epic scale of Infinity War, but it’s a heck of a lot of fun.
Who it’s for
Longtime comics fans, superhero addicts, and anyone who loves quirky science-fiction/fantasy shows.
People who’ve never read a DC comic can certainly enjoy Legends, but the show’s likely to appeal most to comics fans who are thrilled even to hear the names “Gorilla Grodd” or “Jonah Hex,” let alone to see those characters in action. Even Zari is a DC deep cut: Her magic-amulet-derived super-powers are identical to the ’70s TV and comic book heroine Isis… although the show never uses her original name, given the inevitable associations with the ISIS terrorist group .
“Here I Go Again” is relatively low on super-powered action, although as part of her investigation, Zari does get the Atom to shrink her; and at a climactic moment, Steel changes into his metallic armored form, while Vixen uses her animal totem to conjure the spirit of a charging rhino. But what makes this such a good intro episode for newcomers is that while Zari is living through the same hour repeatedly, she finds out more about her teammates, and comes to appreciate them — a feeling Legends novices may also experience as they watch “Here I Go Again.”
Groundhog Day is an obvious influence here, which Nate acknowledges, as he urges Zari to make the most of what she’s going through by enjoying the lack of consequences. (She eventually does, in a funny goofing-off montage.) The episode’s credited writers, Ray Utarnachitt and Morgan Faust — along with director Ben Hernandez Bray and the winning Iranian-American actress Tala Ashe — get into the Groundhog Day spirit, coming up with clever little gags throughout, drawn from Zari’s exhaustion with seeing the same things happening repeatedly.
But it’s telling that when Zari asks Ray for help, his point of reference for what’s going on is the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode “Cause and Effect.” “Here I Go Again” includes a few serialized elements, carrying over from earlier in the season, but for the most part, it’s a throwback to the heyday of ’90s genre shows like The X-Files and Buffy the Vampire Slayer, which inserted memorable standalone stories into the middle of longer arcs.
Where to see it
Netflix. Though the season 3 finale aired just a few weeks ago, on April 9th, Netflix already has all 18 episodes available to stream, along with the previous two Legends of Tomorrow seasons. If “Here I Go Again” encourages you to watch more, feel free to skip season one entirely (aside from maybe the lively Western episode “The Magnificent Eight”) and jump straight into year two, when the show really begins to fire up the wacky.